The glottal stop is as much a mark of the new left as the wibbly mason's handshake was of the old Tories; both are deeply amusing to observers, but applied with deadly seriousness by insiders. They come from good middle class homes, you see, in which their parents listen to Radio Three and guests are intelligent and articulate. They grow up with perfect diction, and as is the new fashion, absolutely accentless. Then they go to Uni.
For the first time they meet real regional people with accents, people whose parents often work for a living, maybe even people who live in a Council House. How can they be credible members of the Marxist Society or the Labour Students Soc alongside such people? The talented polyglots may grow a regional tinge to their voice, but these are rare. Most adopt the easier course of truncating perfectly healthy words with a contrived glottal stop in the belief that it makes them sound working class.
You hear it from every nice middle class boy selling Socialist Worker, from every young woman who has forsaken the gymkhana rosettes on her bedroom wall for wimmin's rights. Ed Balls does it to excess. And now we have a Labour leader who pretends that he can't speak English properly.
How you speak is important. Young men, in particular young black men from horrendous estates in London who are trying, striving, struggling to make their way in life in jobs that require a good sales manner, a correct verbal fluency with customers, enunciate their words with a precision they've had to learn since school. They have my utter admiration. When I get a cold-call and the voice on the other end is a young black man carefully speaking clearly and crafting his diction I'm as polite and as friendly as I can be. This deserves respect. I'm almost prepared to agree to a visit from an Everest rep because they're trying. Really trying.
Edward, dear boy, if you're bright enough to lead the nation you must be bright enough to realise that leaving the ends off words won't make you working class and no one will believe you've ever had a real job either. No one will believe you've ever had to try for anything. No one is fooled. You may have been doing it since Uni, and it may have become a habit. But, frankly, it sounds absurd. And it's deeply disrespectful. Lose it.